Your first year at university is all about settling in, making great friends and adapting to a new way of life.
But, before you know it, it will be time to start thinking about moving out of halls and into your first student house share.
It’s a big step and there are lots of things you’ll need to consider, which we’ll outline here…
What is a student house share?
A student house share is privately rented accommodation shared by several students.
Most student houses are shared by five or six people, who rent the property’s rooms from a private landlord.
When should you start looking for second year accommodation?
According to research from Which?, as many as 40% of students start looking for second-year accommodation before their first term at university is completed.
But how early you should start looking for your second-year house share really depends on where you’re studying and how much demand there is for privately-rented properties.
Generally, if you’re 100% certain on the people you want to live with, you should start looking for your second-year accommodation after Christmas in your first year.
That should give you plenty of time to find a student house that’s right for you and your housemates, without the pressure of having to find a second-year home during the busy spring period.
Here’s everything else you’ll need to consider when moving from halls to a student house share…
1. Choose your housemates wisely
As you get to know people on your course or in your halls of residence, start considering how they would be to live with.
Choosing the right housemates is the most critical part of moving from halls to a student house share – and living with the wrong people can cause huge problems.
Living with people on your course is often the best choice, as they’ll be working to the same kind of coursework deadlines as you and can party with you at the right times.
2. Rent from a reputable local letting agent
Peace of mind is important when renting any kind of property and renting through a trusted local agent is the best way to get this.
By renting through an agent, you can be sure that:
• Your deposit is protected
• You’ll have one point of contact throughout your tenancy
• Any maintenance concerns or emergencies will be dealt with quickly and efficiently
• Your agent is regulated and working to industry specific standards
• Your property will be safe and legally compliant
3. Consider all costs
Before committing to a student house share, make sure you understand all costs you’ll have and what’s included with the rent.
Many student rentals come with bills included in the rent, so your gas, electricity, water and sewerage will be taken care of.
Some student houses come with broadband and subscription TV included, too, but this is less common.
When it comes to TV licences, how many you’ll need will depend on your tenancy agreement:
• If you’re renting your student house on one single tenancy agreement, you’ll only need one TV licence to cover all devices in the house
• If you each have an individual tenancy agreement and you’re renting the property on a room-by-room basis, you’ll each need a TV licence to watch television in your rooms. If you’re only using one TV in a communal area, however, this can be covered by one licence
4. Think about the space you need
When viewing student house shares to rent, you’ll need to be fully focused when on viewings.
Firstly, it’s important that all potential housemates attend each viewing, so any decisions can be made collectively.
Secondly, make sure you think hard about the space you need when you’re looking around.
Are the bedrooms evenly sized? Is there enough space for a desk in each room and is the kitchen and living space large enough for the number of housemates?
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
If you’re renting through a letting agent, they should be able to tell you anything you need to know about the property and the local area, so ask away!
5. Agree on chores and cleaning from day one
If you spent your first year in halls of residence, it’s likely you were only responsible for cleaning your own room, with communal areas taken care of by a cleaner.
When you move to a student house share, it’s important to establish who does what and when early on so there are no disagreements.
Set out a schedule for cleaning and chores and remember to treat your student house share as if it were your own home.
If anything does get broken or an accident does happen, be sure to inform your landlord or letting agent right away.
6. Agree on bills and living costs
If your utility bills aren’t included in the rent, make sure you and your housemates are agreed on how these will be split and paid for.
Will you set up a bank account to pay for bills, or will each housemate be responsible for paying a certain bill each month and collecting money from everyone else in the house?
Think, also, about food and other living costs and how these will be paid for.
Will you all chip in for the weekly food shop, or will each housemate have a space in the cupboards and fridge for their own things?
The most important thing is to ensure all bills are paid in full and on time. Failing to do this could affect your credit rating in the future.
7. Take photos when you move in
If you rent your student house through a letting agent, you should receive an inventory detailing the condition the property was in when you moved in.
However, it’s important you leave the property in the same condition when you move out, so it can be a good idea to take your own photos at the beginning of your tenancy.
This means if you move any furniture around, you can put everything back as it was before you leave.
8. Understand your tenancy agreement
The tenancy agreement you sign along with your landlord is in place to protect everyone involved in your student house share.
When you receive your tenancy agreement to sign, read through it and highlight anything you don’t understand with your landlord or letting agent.
Your agreement will detail what you’re responsible for as tenants and what you can expect from your landlord or letting agent.
9. Don’t make changes without permission
While it can be tempting to change the standard magnolia paint on your student house walls to something a little more vibrant, you should never make any changes to your property without permission from your landlord.
Some landlords will be relaxed about aesthetic changes, but others won’t.
The key is to ask and then accept the landlord’s decision, whatever it may be.